POLITICS
02/09/2017 01:38 pm ET

Pope Francis Has A Very Clear Message For 'Christians' Who Build Walls

Like the one who lives in the White House.
Pope Francis holds up an icon of Sudanese saint Josephine Bakhita during a general audience at the Paul VI Audience Hall at t
ANDREAS SOLARO via Getty Images
Pope Francis holds up an icon of Sudanese saint Josephine Bakhita during a general audience at the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican on February 8, 2017.

Pope Francis appeared to continue his subtle indictment of President Donald Trump on Wednesday with another passionate appeal.

While never directly mentioning Trump or his ban on refugees, Francis renewed his calls for Christians to build bridges, not walls.

“In the social and civil context as well, I appeal not to create walls but to build bridges,” he said during a catechism lesson, according to The Associated Press. “To not respond to evil with evil. To defeat evil with good, the offense with forgiveness. A Christian would never say ‘you will pay for that.’ Never.

“That is not a Christian gesture. An offense you overcome with forgiveness. To live in peace with everyone.”

Francis has made statements like this before. After a papal trip to Mexico last year, a reporter asked Francis to comment on Trump’s plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and to make Mexico pay for it.

In response, Francis said, “A person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”

The pope’s comments on Wednesday coincided with the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, a 19th-century Sudanese woman who was kidnapped, sold into slavery, and eventually traveled to Italy. There, she entered a convent and became a nun. She is the patron saint of Sudan, one of the seven Muslim-majority countries on Trump’s travel ban. 

Pope Francis hasn’t directly addressed Trump’s executive order, but a senior member of the Vatican hierarchy has expressed the Holy See’s disapproval. Many U.S. Catholic bishops have also spoken out against the order.

During his Wednesday address, Francis asked Catholics to pray for Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims refugees, whom human rights groups believe are being persecuted by the country’s army and police. 

“These are good people, peaceful people,” Francis said. “They’re not Christians, but they’re good, our brothers and sisters. And they have been suffering for years. They’ve been tortured and killed, simply because they are continuing their traditions, their Muslim faith. Let us pray for them.”

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